The importance of the first day of a Test series cannot be overstated. It sets the tone for what is to follow. It’s like two boxers gauging each others’ moves in the first minute of a bout, trying to find their feet and settle in.

For India, especially, day one at Trent Bridge on Wednesday was incredibly crucial. They don’t have a great recent record in England, having lost their last three Test series in the country, and needed a strong start to earn the belief that they could compete over five matches.

Thanks to their unrelenting pace attack, India ended up having as good an opening day as any visiting team in England could have hoped for. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur hunted in packs to bowl out Joe Root and Co for 183 – a below-par total despite the seamer-friendly conditions.

And with openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul surviving the last hour of play, India put themselves well ahead in the contest. The all-important day one of the series went in the visitors’ favour.

Before the start of play, there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that it was a win-the-toss-and-bat-first pitch. Michael Holding said so in his report. Root had no hesitation in announcing his decision after winning the toss. And Kohli, too, admitted he would’ve preferred to bat.

However, the coin toss was pretty much all that went against India on Wednesday.

Heading into the series, Bumrah’s form was one of the focal points for the Indian team. The 27-year-old wasn’t at his best in the World Test Championship final defeat to New Zealand and it was no secret that his team needed him to fire in order to succeed.

Which is why the 4/46 that Bumrah got was perhaps the biggest gain for India from England’s first innings. He started the day with a bang, removing Rory Burns with the fifth ball of the match, and came back to deliver a fiery spell in the final session.

Bumrah was economical throughout the day, using the width of the crease smartly to nip the ball back into right-handers and also get some deliveries to straighten. Jos Buttler, arguably the most devastating batsman in England’s lineup when he gets going, was dismissed for an 18-ball duck. And the reason for that was how Bumrah tied him up.

The most impressive part of his spell, though, was how he bowled to left-handers from round the wicket. The right-arm pacer angled the balls in and got them to swing away late masterfully. He cleaned up Stuart Broad and James Anderson with lethal deliveries and also beat Sam Curran’s bat a number of times. The hunger with which he bowled that last spell will please captain Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri no end.

While Bumrah’s performance was just what India needed, perhaps the most impactful bowler of the day was Shami.

It is often said that the 30-year-old tends to be unlucky. That he has impeccable seam position, bowls wonderful deliveries, does everything right, but doesn’t get enough wickets. There seemed to be a similar pattern on Wednesday too, with Shami beating the outside edge repeatedly. But once he got Dom Sibley in his ninth over, he ended up delivering a spell that turned the game around for India.

England’s most promising period of play was the partnership between Root and Jonny Bairstow. The duo added 72 runs for the fourth wicket. But it was Shami who got the all-important breakthrough for India by getting one to jag back in sharply and trapping Bairstow in front. He then sent Dan Lawrence packing for a duck in the same over and all of a sudden, India were firmly in the driver’s seat.

The heart with which Shami bowls each over is a major asset for India. He looked the most threatening bowler throughout and asked England’s batsmen the toughest questions. Along with Bumrah, he is undoubtedly India’s strike bowler and him gaining confidence early on in the series is a plus for the visitors.

Finally, Siraj and Thakur did their jobs too. Siraj had just one wicket to show for his efforts and was the least economical pacer. But his dismissal of the dangerous looking Zak Crawley and the pressure he built from his end was crucial for India. The 27-year-old did a wonderful job as the leader of the attack in his debut series in Australia, and he once again showed he’s more than capable of troubling the best batsmen.

Thakur, on the other hand, seemed to be playing a holding role for the most part. He wasn’t really attacking the stumps and was getting the ball to swing away from the right-handers consistently. And it was that wonderful, natural out-swinger that ended up getting India the wicket they wanted most. Root was well set and batting on 64. His team had lost three wickets in eight overs and needed him to anchor the innings with the tail. But Thakur got one to straighten from the perfect line and it trapped the England skipper plumb in front. It was undoubtedly a huge moment in the match.

“They are the most potent (bowling attack) in comparison to where they have been for the past few years,” England batting coach Marcus Trescothick told reporters at the end of day’s play.

“They have a lot of bases covered. You can see the guys who are not playing, how much quality they have. They have a good stock currently. They don’t get to the World Test Championship final for no reason. We saw them go to Australia and perform there, so it’s no surprise to us. It’s just challenging and we know it’s a real contest, we have to raise our game to match up against their skills.”

India, of course, need to consolidate with the bat on day two and keep their heads down. But while batting was always going to be the bigger challenge for them in England, the performance by their fast bowlers on the opening day of the series will give them immense belief.

A day before the match, Kohli said he was confident his team could dismiss England consistently. His pacers have set the ball rolling with a big statement.